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Everything posted by sartoric

  1. Thanks @KennethT, always great to see your food porn. I badgered our hotel in Seminyak to direct me to a local place for babi gulang. Eventually they relented and told me about a place a few blocks away after a heavily emphasised disclaimer that we might get sick (we didn’t). It was empty, but we ate anyway and enjoyed it immensely.
  2. I make this a lot. Traditionally served with dosa, but great with all kinds of Indian food, even just scooped up with bread or pappads for a snack. Although it's slightly different every time, depending on the tomatoes and chillies used, plus the strength of the tamarind, it's easy, quick to make and always delicious. In a blender - half a medium red onion chopped, 7 dried red chillies broken up a bit, 2 ripe tomatoes chopped, 1 tsp of sea salt, 3 tsp tamarind paste. Whizz until purée like about 2 minutes. In a sauté pan over medium heat add 60 ml sesame oil (gingelly), when it's hot but not smoking add 1 tsp black mustard seeds. Quickly cover the pan to prevent escape and sizzle for a minute. Add 1 tsp of urad dal (black lentils, skinned and split they are light grey). Fry until golden, another minute or so. Throw in about 20 curry leaves. These splatter so cover the pan again. Lower the heat and add the blender contents. Simmer, stirring frequently for about 10 minutes, until you get a runny jam consistency. Ta da !
  3. sartoric

    Dinner 2018 (Part 1)

    Indian thali #326 Spiced rice with fenugreek chicken curry, stir fried broccolini, potatoes with dill, dal, cucumber & dill raita, plus homemade mango pickle.
  4. Thanks for that, I think I’ve borrowed Curry Easy Vegetarian from the library, err, several times
  5. Thanks for this @Chris Hennes, I cook Indian food every day, mostly vegetarian and I love Madhur Jaffreys recipes. It just so happens that the largest book fair in our city happens this weekend, I’ll be looking out for Vegetarian India.
  6. @Smithy, thanks for encouraging my education via Wikipedia on the various types of limes. Here they’re mostly Tahitian limes, which are what you know as Persian limes. I guess adjusting the sugar would be the way to compensate, although I never try a batch before maturing, we enjoy the surprise. Your pickle looks great.
  7. sartoric

    The Dish Towel

    Here in the antipodes they’re commonly known as tea towels. This one is a favourite, the kindergarten class of my brothers child, where each child draws a self portrait. First column, second row, how my niece sees her parents...nothing much has changed.
  8. sartoric

    Mortar and Pestle – The Topic

    Yep, that’s what I do.
  9. Correct, I sterilise the jar with hot rinse then low oven, that’s all. The lime pickle goes quickly around here. A kaffir lime pickle i experimented with using the same recipe is not so popular, it has kept well for several months.
  10. Thanks for taking care of this @blue_dolphin, I make a batch every month or so now. It stores well in the cupboard here
  11. We’ve just returned from a fun filled 16 days on the beautiful island of Sri Lanka. The food was fantastic, the people friendly, the markets chaotic, the temples serene, the mountains breathtaking, the wildlife plentiful and the weather ? Well, you can’t have everything, it was mostly hot, and at times very wet. Why Sri Lanka ? We loved time spent earlier this year in southern India, especially the food. Sri Lanka lies just off the southern tip of India and has been influenced over time by various invading Indian dynasties. Often referred to as the spice Island, it’s been an important trading post for centuries. Other countries have also played their part in shaping Sri Lankan cuisine. The Portuguese arrived in the early part of the 16th century, the Dutch gained control in the 17th century, the British had control by 1815, and independence was proclaimed in 1948. Throughout these years, Chinese traders also contributed to the evolution of Sri Lanka. So, what’s the food like ? Delicious ! Our first night was spent at a homestay in the coastal city of Negombo. All day the rain bucketed down. It was difficult to go anywhere else, so we asked our hosts to provide dinner. Good move ! The rain let up long enough for a quick quick visit to the fish market, the first of several we’d see. Our hostess made 10 different dishes including a mango curry where I watched her pluck the fruit from the tree in the front yard. There was sour fish curry, chicken curry, dal, several veggie curries, chutney, two rice and roti bread. The meal cost 900 rupees pp, or about $6. Gosh it was good. Lousy photo, some better ones to come.
  12. sartoric

    Dinner 2017 (Part 6)

    A few recent meals. I’ve branched out (only slightly) from our all Indian diet, to include Sri Lankan food. Chicken wing curry, dal parripu, stir fried snow peas, potato curry with yellow rice and paratha. On the side, coconut sambal and homemade mango chutney. A different chicken curry, green beans curry, coconut sambal, potatoes with dill, dal, served with rice and pappads. Yet another chicken curry, mixed veggie curry, stir fried asparagus, dal, served with rice and homemade coconut roti, plus coconut sambal and mango chutney on the side. Here’s a shameless plug for my mini foodblog “Tasting Sri Lanka” which can be found on the Elsewhere in Asia/Pacific dining forum. This link might work.
  13. Tea and a banana would do for breakfast on our last day in Sri Lanka, as we had a big day of eating lined up. We grabbed a tuk tuk to the Pettah, a fascinating market district and bustling even on a Sunday. Determined to find another recommendation, (the hole in the wall Mayura), google maps did a sterling job of leading us here through the rainy chaotic laneways. M ordered chicken with white rice, I ordered crabs with red rice, each came with a mixed veggie curry, dal, pickle and an omelette. We clumsily ate with our fingers, under the amused stares of the other patrons. The chicken curry included all parts of the bird - liver, heart and unmentionables, thankfully no feathers. This meal was delicious, authentic and very cheap at 920 rupees. Mayura is popular and very busy with takeaways, see all the green bags lined up on the counter. We waddled to the train station and rode the rails to Mt Lavinia about 30 minutes away. There lies the historic Mt Lavinia Hotel, a gracious colonial building overlooking the ocean. So pleasant to relax on the veranda with a beer, while listening to a cool jazz band and people watching. I had made reservations (imperative) for dinner at the Ministry of Crab. Started by two Sri Lankan international cricket stars, and run on eco friendly principles, it’s located in the Old Dutch Hospital, yet another gorgeous colonial building tastefully renovated and filled with upmarket shops and restaurants. We shared a baked crab starter...not really necessary. Then, this jumbo chilli crab.... With mixed veggies and garlic rice, also not necessary. I could have easily skipped all of this to focus purely on the crab. A fantastic (if expensive) meal, and a fitting end to our trip tasting Sri Lanka.
  14. Colombo, steamy capital of Sri Lanka. Our homestay is a charming 170 year old house set in lush gardens with beautifully detailed fretwork above the doors, interesting art and comfy lounges on the porch. Breakfast was simple but tasty, milk rice, dal and coconut sambal. I got to help in the very basic kitchen, and so wish I could pop out to the shop at home for a bag of freshly grated coconut. We were fortune to become friends with the extended family of our homestay host from our first night in Negombo. Today we would spend the day together sight seeing and enjoying a fantastic lunch at Kaema Sutra. The restaurant is owned by a Bollywood star (idolised by the younger daughter of our family friends) is upmarket and inventive in it’s modern take on Sri Lankan cuisine. It’s located in Independence Square a huge colonnaded collection of buildings, and another example of thoughtful renovation. We shared a few godhambra roti crisps to start, then Australian mutton curry, steamed barramundi, kottu with roast chicken, baby potato curry, okra curry, dal and yellow rice. That’s a lime for squeezing on the kottu (in the muslin bag, foreground plate). I finally got a shot of the kottu cooking. We shared a dessert of “What the hopper” a honey hopper filled with whipped curd, fresh strawberries and drizzled with treacle. This restaurant was a great recommendation, delicious food, fabulous staff who made a fuss of younger daughters obsession, and not expensive, 10,000 rupees for six people including drinks.
  15. @Kerala, the cashews are delicious, we saw them growing too. It was a long drive to Galle, the arrival made even more sweet by the city itself. With a lively food scene,, buildings from the 16th century onwards, stunning sea views from high up on the ramparts, sun sinking into ocean, eclectic shops, and friendly people, this was our kinda town. We stayed in the old fort area, a collection of easy to navigate streets with an interesting something around every corner. Our front porch was across the road from Serendipity Arts Café, a great spot for dinner on our first night. The chef here is affectionately known as Babi. He accompanied the well know Australian chef and television personality Peter Kuruvita on his around island filming of the series My Sri Lanka (worth a watch). Babi also owns two other cafes, Spoon’s and The Stairway (Keep Calm and Climb the...), a busy guy, but not too busy to cook food for us. M ordered chicken kebabs with chips and salad. The chicken was spicy, moist and tender, the chips fried with curry leaves and garlic to be squeezed over, the salad a perfect foil. I had rice and curry and took the only blurry photo of the trip. My curries were pumpkin, okra, cucumber, pineapple and dal, all surrounding a mound of rice. Delicious meals. Breakfast at our guesthouse was the best of the trip both days. String hoppers made with millet flour, egg hoppers, roti, milk rice, and sweet filled coconut pancakes. To go with coconut sambal, chilli sambal, fish curry and dal. Plus fruit and good coffee. Interesting that avocado is seen here more often as a sweet rather than savoury food. It’s in many desserts and better known as butter fruit. This spice shop was also across the road, quaint with its large jars of spice displayed like an old fashioned lolly shop. It’s owned by a friendly man wearing traditional Muslim dress, happy to talk about spice and recommend his best roasted curry powder. The Dutch Hospital is beautifully renovated and repurposed with upmarket restaurants, bars, and shops. Partially obscured by the tree is A Minute by Tuk Tuk, another great dinner recommendation. So pleasant to sit on the balcony with a slight sea breeze and a gin & tonic. M ordered roast chicken with godhambra roti (paper thin stretchy bread), it came with dal and curry sauce. I ordered eggplant godhambra which came with dal, and we shared nutty prawns. This meal was delicious and not expensive at 4300 rupees including two drinks. The food would get even better for our last few days in Sri Lanka. Next up, Colombo !
  16. Yes @kayb, very fancy for Sri Lanka. The house belonged to D’s MIL, the FIL was a famous musician and artist, he passed away 15 years ago, but left an interesting legacy of artwork and old photographs in the bungalow that he designed. From Kandy we head further into hill country to Nuwara Eliya. Sitting at 2000 m above sea level it’s cooler and therefore was a favourite haunt of the British during colonial times wanting to escape the heat and humidity of the plains. There’s many fine examples of colonial architecture with stately hotels, a pink post office and one of the worlds oldest golf courses. Lunch was rice and curry at Milano’s, a local joint in town. I had vegetarian, the guys each had the same with a bright red piece of chicken on top, plus a bowl of coconut gravy to share. Here there was manioc (a tuber like sweet potato), okra, mallum of the day, dal, pappads and the ubiquitous rice. Our next destination was Ella, we had tickets for the 3 pm train to get there. D drove us to the station, but the train had other plans, and was delayed. Instead, D drove us to Ella through the misty mountain scenery complete with tea pickers carrying their harvest via a headband supporting the bundle on their backs. Hard work for what we would consider very little money, but with cheerful women making the best of it. Ella is gorgeous, with an easy to navigate small town surrounded by lush mountains. Chill cafe was our dinner venue, for a wood fired pizza ! The margherita pizza was good, a thin crust as we like it, plus a scattering of basil and mozzarella. There’s several hikes in the area. We huffed and puffed our way up to Little Adams peak. Three kms of wide, gently climbing trail through tea plantations, 350 odd steps and several sections of scrambling goat track later, we made it. The 360 degree views are a fitting reward. Chill cafe beckoned us for further reward - beer and snacks, fried cashews with chilli and garlic, plus pappads with homemade mango chutney. We made it back to our guesthouse just before the rain started, and then clouds rolled up the valley and turned our picture perfect view into a whiteout. A total rest afternoon ensued. Dinner down the road at Zion View guesthouse was more rice and curry (chicken) to share, plus homemade samosas with chips and salad. I like the way they mixed the chips into the salad. All very tasty. Two very large longhaired German shepherds roamed this open air restaurant. They were skin and bone underneath all that hair, though clearly loved and prized possessions. I’m convinced there is not one fat dog in Sri Lanka.
  17. Yes @KennethT, there’s many different types of roti. Some in Sri Lanka have an egg, green onion and chilli in the dough, others are flaky with layers of ghee - they’re my favourite. I made some at home on the weekend, rice flour, desiccated coconut, salt and water were the only ingredients. They turned out okay, but the dough was a bit too wet and therefore difficult to handle. Practise needed ! On to Kandy, the second largest city in Sri Lanka, placed amongst towering mountains with pretty lakes and large trees providing a green backdrop. Our accommodation is at a homestay high in the hills where we enjoyed magnificent views over lush slopes and a very good rice and curry dinner. Here’s chicken curry (hiding under slices of fresh tomato), potato curry, pappads, rice, stir fried kancun (water spinach), green beans curry, snake gourd curry and dal. Breakfast here was a masala omelette with toast and jam, fresh fruit and coffee. It was okay and hit the spot, but I missed string hoppers, no photos. There’s a well known restaurant in town Balaji Dosai, we sought it out for the famous dosa of southern India and weren’t disappointed. It’s a small high turnover place with queues waiting for seats, shared tables, wash basin in the corner and no cutlery. The masala dosa was delicious, served with coconut chutney and dal. This photo taken before the man opposite me motioned I should turn the plate around. Ok, that makes sense. D lives in Kandy and tonight was to be our last night with him. He invited us to share a meal at his home and sample his wife’s cooking, what a treat. Seen below, black pork curry, devilled chicken, string hopper kottu, salad like coleslaw but better and vegetable curry. Traditionally in Sri Lanka guests and older people eat first, so the table is set for three, being me, M and his mother in law. We goaded him into joining us which he eventually did, fingers balling up a tasty mix of kottu with some pork and veggies and then offering it to his wife. So sweet.
  18. Yes, snake gourds or long gourds. Sri Lanka would have been frontier like in the 70’s, what an amazing experience. Later in the trip we heard butter fruit mentioned. We were with a young woman who quickly googled and translated it to avocado. Butter fruit makes sense, no ? Ties in nicely to the answer to my mystery sacked object....they’re tiny avocados.
  19. I think you’re right @KootenayCook. When I asked the driver that’s what he said, but when I googled betel nuts they looked different. It makes sense, to the left are bundles of the leaves they use to wrap the chewing package. Well done.
  20. Are they that bad really ? They’re only rice flour, coconut and water...cooked in a smear of ghee.
  21. Thanks @kayb. Our accomodation in Sigiriya was suggested by D (D for driver) and was terrific in many respects, a fabulous view of Sigiriya (lions) rock, modern comfy room and the best breakfast yet. On our second mornings breakfast there we had to move to a larger table to accommodate all the dishes. There were string hoppers, fried eggs, green onion roti, coconut sambal, potato curry, chicken curry, green bean curry and some fresh fruit. There’s hot water in the pink thermos and tea or coffee bags. We ate here one night as well, Chinese influenced noodles with veggies and an egg on top, plus homemade spring rolls, no photo. The kitchen was gleaming stainless steel any chef would be proud of, again no photos. Dambulla has the largest wholesale fruit and veggie market in the country. There’s 3 huge industrial spans covering rows of shop fronts, room for the trucks to get in, unload and get out, gaunt men carrying 40 kilo sacks on their backs and all manner of interesting produce. We wandered for close to an hour trying not to get in the way of men working and trucks moving. Buyers and sellers were clearly negotiating hard, yet still happy to engage the foreign tourists. Sri Lanka is one of the friendliest countries we’ve been to. How’s the size of these long gourds ? Anyone know what these are ? I did ask D, his answer was vague and I’m not certain correct. Can you guess what those things in the sack are ? I got a taste, (clue, they’re not olives). Dambulla also has a famous cave temple https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dambulla_cave_temple dating from the 2nd century BC. It’s stunning - 332 steps later. Yes, I counted them. Great views of the surrounding countryside too.
  22. Thanks @Kerala. Not as many photos this time...but some will really make you hungry later ! We stayed in a large beachfront hotel at Uppavalli beach a few kilometres north of Trinco. To my surprise on our second morning they provided only western breakfasts. I shamed them into providing Sri Lankan food, so they found some milk rice, dal, chicken curry and coconut sambal, probably left over from the staff brekkie. It was good anyway. Trinco has a fish market, a fruit and veggie market, and lots of these shops selling dried fish and chillies. Our driver arranged dinner at a fisherman’s house in a village about 30 minutes drive away. This turned out to be the worst meal of the trip and was relatively expensive. We had special dispensation to take beer to this Muslim home,. On arrival, I realised I’d forgotten it (she who must remember everything). The food was awful, a whole steamed fish with flesh the colour (and taste) of mud, some over cooked fried white fish cutlets, stir fried and tasteless unshelled small prawns, rubber band-like calamari, okay crabs (but small, so fiddly and not nearly enough oomph in the sauce), pretty good rice and a bunch of bananas. We were surprised when the guy asked for 5000 rupees, but handed over the cash not wanting to offend . We knew we’d paid too much, and on the drive home consoled ourselves with thoughts of a cold beer waiting in our mini fridge. Except M had turned the temp control down low to get it really cold, a couple hours before dinner. The beer was frozen, bugger. On the drive to Sigiriya there are road side stalls selling fresh curd with honey (actually palm treacle). It’s a buffalo milk curd served in a single use terracotta pot drizzled with dark brown gooey sweet stuff, absolutely delish. Lunch in Sigiriya was rice and curry, a good one. We were on our own and found a restaurant in the main street that also sold beer, bonus. On the table today, two fried spring rolls (a Chinese influence) pappads, bean curry, potato curry, mallum of the day, mango curry, dal and of course rice. Mallum is made with shredded leaves, coconut, onion and spices including chilli, Maldive fish and turmeric. Any of a variety of leaves are used for this dish, these are gotukul, a type of cress and said to be good for health. This was a yummy meal for 1600 rupees (not including beer). Our driver picked us up in town in a jeep with another guy driving. We saw these guys, a fantastic day.
  23. After a day spent exploring the huge ancient city site AND climbing more than a thousand steps to a mountain top temple, it’s a wonder I could even sit in a chair to eat. But I did. We grabbed takeaway from the same restaurant Chammys, watching the chef prepare our kottu roti on the flat hot plate out on the footpath. He swirled on oil, a mix of chopped garlic, onion and other veggies, added chilli and turmeric powder and two eggs all the while stirring and frying. He then added several handfuls of shredded roti bread and went to work furiously chopping with two flat metal blades about 20 cm square. Makes a hell of a racket, tastes great. Too tired to take it out of the plastic, we dug in with forks after tipping on some of the black peppery sauce that came with it. Passing by the next morning on our way out of town, the closed restaurant showing the cooking stations out front. The families who own the business live above it. Breakfast in our resort (I use that term loosely there were only three cabins and a total of two staff) was another new Sri Lankan specialty. Milk rice is made by cooking rice with coconut milk then pressing it into a tray to set, usually overnight. It’s cut into shapes, maybe a diamond maybe rectangular. Here it’s served with coconut sambal, onion relish, dal and roti. Amazing what this one young cook (who was also the receptionist and waiter) could prepare in a very basic kitchen. Sorry no photos of the kitchen. On our drives through the countryside we could pull into almost any thatched roof shop for tea or coffee. Someone would put the kettle on, someone else would rustle up a few plastic chairs and we’d sit under the shade of a tree. Handmade sweetmeats were sometimes offered. Sorry no photos I’m in them all ! Trincomalee is a beachside city on the east coast of Sri Lanka. The population is largely Tamil rather than Sinhalese like most of the rest of the country. The food is much closer to South Indian in style and spice. The temples are Hindu rather than Buddhist. There’s a smattering of backpacker type beachfront bars where we devoured a snack of fried cashews with garlic and curry leaves. The locally brewed Lion beer is an easy drinking lager and I like the artwork. Here’s a familiar dinner, for me masala dosa filled with spicy potato, served with coconut chutney, tomato chutney and dal. For husband M, flaky paratha with chicken curry. Very South Indian and perhaps the spiciest food we had in Sri Lanka. This restaurant is huge, seats at least 200, it’s next door to the Haryana Kovil (Hindu temple) just north of Trinco. The food was divine, and so cheap, less than $2.50 with a big bottle of water.
  24. Thanks guys. Rice and curry is a once a day thing for me, I can’t manage two, and a club sandwich was the only other choice at our resort. We’re the only guests which is kind of nice, out in the countryside by a lake, 3 dogs and a cat which made our porch their rendezvous spot, cows wandering through, apparently jackals (we didn’t see one) and lots of birds, plus a turtle. The club sandwich wasn’t too bad, a British influence of course. Interesting markings on this turtle. This guy joined us after dinner, biggest stick insect I’ve seen in a while. Here’s another string hopper breakfast, this time with chicken curry, coconut sambal and dal, plus roti bread and coffee. “Short eats” are another Sri Lankan institution. They can be eaten as a snack anytime, usually in the afternoon, are often fried and often served in carefully glued together exam papers. We enjoyed cheese and lentil roti, fish roti and vada (crunchy lentil balls). I didn’t get a photo of the food, but here’s the bag complete with the red markers pen.
  25. Thanks @Okanagancook, it’s good to be back ! @liuzhou, I bet it’s changed, the new name came into play in 1972 ! I had hired a driver for the next 9 days, and he would turn out to be a great choice. He loved his food, and knew his country well. But first, breakfast at our homestay.. It was simple and traditional, cooked with care. String hoppers, dal and coconut sambal with a cup of tea. The string hoppers are made with a rice flour soft dough, extruded through a special tool, then steamed. We fell in love with coconut sambal, a good thing too, as it’s ubiquitous in Sri Lanka. The average serve is 8 of these for breakfast, you see 2 above. Meals are almost always served family style, so seconds are easy. Another common sight are king coconuts. Roadside stall holders will hack the top off for you and give you a straw to drink the cool liquid. You give the shell back and they will prize out the flesh, yum. The roadside got wilder. Lunch - Rice and curry is a favoured lunch meal all over the country. We ate with our driver at Chammy Restaurant in Anuradhapura. It’s a very local and typical Sri Lankan place, with two chefs cooking on the footpath in enclosed stations. Various curries are held in a display case. You can choose meat, chicken, fish, egg or veg. We chose vegetarian (one with egg) and were served three different veggie curries including jackfruit, okra and mixed veggies, dal, two hard boiled eggs, rice in a banana leaf lined basket and pappads. The local way to eat is with the fingers of your right hand. On our first full day here, we newbies used cutlery, that would change soon enough. Happy chef too...